Category Archives: SLE Lupus Foundation

The largest lupus fundraiser in the world raised close to $3 million for innovative research that can save lives while advancing toward a cure

December 1, 2015 – New York, NY – The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), Lupus Research Institute (LRI) and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation celebrated their first joint dinner at the “Moving Forward Together to Fight Lupus” Gala that heralded their upcoming merger. The largest lupus fundraiser in the world raised close to $3 million for innovative research that can save lives while advancing to a cure. The gala was held at the iconic Waldorf Astoria and the venue looked as beautiful as the donors.

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Megan Hilty, the Broadway, film and singer/actress on NBC’s Smash, brought the audience to its feet with her powerful voice and Hollywood glamour. Having starred in 9 to 5: The Musical, and Wicked, Megan returns to Broadway this December in the revival of Noises Off.

Founder of the Alliance for Lupus Research and Chairman and CEO New York Jets, Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, and Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO, iHeartMedia, Inc. co-hosted the evening with Richard DeScherer, President of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, Bloomberg L.P. and Robert J. Ravitz, Chairman, Lupus Research Institute. Television broadcaster, lupus advocate and devoted mom to her daughter with lupus, Brenda Blackmon, served as emcee with inimitable warmth and charm.

Michelle Ifill accepted the Corporate Leadership Award on behalf of Verizon Communications, Inc. for their long-time support of the ALR’s research initiatives and contributions to the lupus community. Thousands of Verizon employees have attended ALR Walkathon events across the country and have raised more than half a million dollars by going out and fundraising on their own.

The 2015 Visionary Award recognized the outstanding contributions of two extraordinary women with lupus — S.L.E. Lupus Foundation founder Susan Golick and Jennie DeScherer, dedicated member of the Boards of the Foundation and Lupus Research Institute. Three-term Mayor of New York City, entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg presented Jennie with her Visionary Award, describing her as an “inspiring example of someone who won’t let this disease get in the way of living her life to the fullest.” Presenting the award to Susan, LRI and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board member Jerry Chazen thanked her for launching the lupus movement in America 45 years ago and for her continued involvement in helping shape the organization’s growth.

“Tonight we honor the champions who had the extraordinary vision and pioneering spirit to support the most novel research,” noted Margaret G. Dowd, President and CEO of the Lupus Research Institute and Executive Director of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation.  “We support patient-centric research which means that everything is about the patients and for the patients.”

“This year’s Gala celebrates the strength of the lupus community as it brings people from ever-widening circles together to fight for a common cause,” said Kenneth M. Farber, President of the Alliance for Lupus Research.  “The upcoming merger of the ALR with the Lupus Research Institute and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is enormously exciting as the culmination of our ongoing collaboration and the launch of the world’s largest group dedicated to advancing innovative research in lupus.”

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Six hundred guests attended included Matilda Cuomo; Edward and Arlyn Gardner; Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg; Brett Heyman; Donald Newhouse; Joan Sarnoff; Fern and Lenard Tessler; and Carol and Michael Weisman. Governor Andrew Cuomo was not able to attend but sent a letter of congratulations and Assistant Secretary of Health Tracie Gardner in his stead.

About the Alliance for Lupus Research
The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) is a national voluntary health organization dedicated to finding better treatments and ultimately preventing and curing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus). The organization is based in New York City and chaired by Robert Wood Johnson IV. Since its founding in 1999, the ALR has given more money to lupus research than any non-governmental agency in the world. To date the ALR has committed nearly $100 million to fund the most innovative and aggressive research into the cause, prevention and cure of lupus.  The board of directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, allowing one hundred percent of all donations from the public, and the proceeds of our signature grassroots fundraising program, Walk with Us to Cure Lupus, to go directly to support research programs. More information can be found at lupusresearch.org.

About S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and Lupus Research Institute
Formed 45 years ago, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is dedicated to advancing lupus research, patient education, advocacy and awareness. In 2000 the Foundation helped launch the Lupus Research Institute to support only bold novel research in lupus – the creativity and innovation needed to drive scientific discovery in this complex autoimmune disease. Together the organizations have generated over $200-million for cutting edge lupus research, delivering many of the most pivotal scientific breakthroughs of the past decade. Today the LRI is the world’s leading private supporter of innovative research in lupus. Learn more at LupusNY.org and LupusResearchInstitute.org.

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The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Celebrates Innovation at Gala 2014

November 24, 2014– New York, NY – The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute raised $2 million at the annual Life Without Lupus Gala to support novel research that can transform patients’ lives while advancing towards prevention and a cure. Close to 600 members of the metropolitan New York’s philanthropic, government, business, art, music, society and health care communities joined to “Celebrate Innovation” in lupus research and care.

Seventeen-time Grammy-winner and beloved singer for seven decades, Tony Bennett was introduced via videotape by his collaborator and close friend Lady Gaga. She noted, “Fighting lupus is a cause very close to me, my family and to my friend, the one and only Mr. Tony Bennett.” Bennett performed such classics as “They All Laughed,” “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” and “The Way You Look Tonight,” and his performance was met with a standing ovation befitting a performer of his immense stature and enduring popularity.

This year’s Gala Honoree Iris Cantor, Chairman and President of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, was celebrated as a trailblazer in bringing the power of philanthropy to transform medical research and care. Particularly fitting, the award was presented by Herb Pardes, M.D., retired president and chief executive and current executive vice chairman of New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Board of Trustees. There Ms. Cantor led the creation of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center as well as New York’s first men’s health center. She noted, “Philanthropy and innovation go hand in hand. Through philanthropy we can accelerate the path from concept to practice.”

As Scientific Honoree, Bahija Jallal, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, AstraZeneca, Head of MedImmune was recognized for her leadership in helping the company fulfill its commitment to furthering biomedical innovation that can change the face of autoimmune treatment. “We believe great science will bring great medicine.”

As the biggest single lupus event and highly-anticipated annual fundraiser, the Gala was appropriately held at another larger-than-life New York institution, the American Museum of Natural History. New York City’s chic crowd came out to support the cause in some of fall’s best looks:

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One of the city’s beloved television personalities, NBC’s Today Show Co-host Willie Geist entertained as Master of Ceremonies for the fourth consecutive year. Opera legend Jessye Norman served as Honorary Gala Chair and Gala 2014 Dinner Chairs were: Jennie and Richard DeScherer; Anna R. Fisch; Susan Golick and Alan Wasserman, D.D.S.; Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg; Pamela and Arnold Lehman; and Bing Yao, Ph.D.

Other prominent guests included Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; philanthropists Edward and Arlyn Gardner; Joan and Arthur Sarnoff; Carol and Michael Weisman; Christina and Robert Baker; and Fox-TV political commentator Jeanine Ferris Pirro; and Miss New York 2014 Jillian Tapper.

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A live auction conducted by Sotheby’s Chairman Jamie Niven generated donations for research and services to help people with lupus now and in the future. Thanks go to Modern Luxury for providing copies of the latest issue of Manhattan Magazine.

About S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and Lupus Research Institute

Formed over 40 years ago, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is dedicated to advancing lupus research, patient education, advocacy and awareness. In 2000 the Foundation helped launch the Lupus Research Institute to support only bold novel research in lupus – the creativity and innovation needed to drive scientific discovery in this complex autoimmune disease. Together the organizations have generated over $185-million for cutting edge lupus research, delivering many of the most pivotal scientific breakthroughs of the past decade. Today the LRI is the world’s leading private supporter of innovative research in lupus.

Defeating Lupus is in the Bag

NEW YORK, NY – April 28, 2014 –

Tim Gunn

Hundreds of leaders in New York’s fashion, entertainment, travel, philanthropic and lupus communities turned out to support the fight against lupus at the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s sixth annual New York Bag Ladies Luncheon. Raising nearly $400,000, the sold-out event featured Emmy-winning Project Runway host Tim Gunn as Master of Ceremonies.

Women of Achievement Honorees

The 2014 Women of Achievement honored were: Desiree Gruber, President and CEO, Full Picture, Co-Creator & Executive Producer, Project Runway and Co-Founder, Theodora & Callum; Lisa R. Sammaritano, MD, Associate Attending Physician, Hospital for Special Surgery and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College; and Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Managing Director and Global Head, Diversity & Inclusion, Credit Suisse. The three honorees were recognized for their outstanding professional accomplishments in their respective fields as well as their help in advancing the fight against lupus.

“I feel it’s my responsibility to help gain awareness for a disease that particularly targets women,” said Ms. Gruber.  “The Bag Ladies Luncheon is the perfect opportunity for the fashion industry to support the very women they serve on a daily basis.”

Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Jessye Norman, Tim Gunn, Desiree Gruber

Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Jessye Norman, Tim Gunn, Desiree Gruber

“The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute have played an important role in the continued focus on lupus research at Hospital for Special Surgery,” said Dr. Sammaritano. “In addition, we care for many shared patients, providing both medical and social support so no one has to face lupus alone.”

Ms. Gadsden-Williams noted, “I joined the Board of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation because, as a lupus patient myself, I strongly believe in the organization’s vital mission – supporting science and service. I strive to empower myself and others to overcome the challenges of living with this difficult disease.”

Star-Studded Attendees

There to honor Ms. Gadsden-Williams was Cissy Houston, gospel singer and mother of the late pop superstar Whitney Houston. Attending to celebrate another Woman of Achievement was Ms. Gruber’s actor-husband Kyle MacLachlan, well-known for his roles on the TV shows Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Portlandia, Believe and How I Met Your Mother.

Honorary co-chairs were Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Former First Lady of New York State, Founder and Chair of Mentoring USA and opera legend Jessye Norman.  Miss Norman commented, “As an artist, I have always refused to believe in limits. Today we are raising the funding for research that will allow young women with lupus to go beyond the limits of this disease to pursue their dreams.”

Melany Hearne Martins, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Exantas Capital LLC, chaired the Bag Ladies Luncheon this year. The Foundation’s Board was well represented by founder Susan Golick and members Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg; Jennie DeScherer, Fern Kay Tessler; Betsey Selkowitz; Carol Weisman; and Kate Kelly.  The Foundation’s growing Young Leadership Group were among the guests and volunteers, helping make this annual fundraiser a major success.

Several fashion luminaries attended including Anne Keating, Senior Vice President of Public Relations, Special Events & Corporate Philanthropy at Bloomingdale’s, Inc.; Danielle DiFernando, Founder of Danielle Nicole Handbags; and Foundation board member Mary Belle, President, Licensing at The Jones Group which encompasses iconic lifestyle brands such as Anne Klein, Jones New York and Nine West.  Noted philanthropists and socialites included Phyllis Mack, Denise Wohl, and Lady Va Maughan.

Bags Brimming with Promise

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“We thank everyone who helped make this event an unprecedented success,” said Margaret Dowd, Executive Director, S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. “While the annual Bag Ladies Luncheon is great fun, the reason we’re here is quite serious – to raise the necessary funds to advance the most novel and innovative research. Our Foundation helps people live with lupus day-to-day, but the best way we can help long-term is to deliver better, safer treatments as we pursue a cure. ”

About Lupus:
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a chronic, complex and serious autoimmune disease affecting more than 1.5 million Americans. Nine out of 10 people with lupus are women. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs — the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints. Lupus is difficult to diagnose, difficult to treat, and a leading cause of premature cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke among young women.

About the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation:
Formed over 40 years ago, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation leads the nation in providing direct patient support, education, public awareness, as well as funding for innovative lupus research on the national level. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is a member of the Lupus Research Institute National Coalition of patient groups throughout the country. Visit LupusNY.org for more information.

Best Dressed Guests: Our 10 Top Looks From S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Hosts the Life Without Lupus Gala 2013: Turning Lupus Research Upside Down

By Cathy Berger

November 26, 2013– New York, NY – The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute raised over $2 million at its annual Life Without Lupus Gala 2013 to support innovative novel research that can improve care while advancing towards a cure.  Nearly 700 members of New York City’s philanthropic, government, business, art, music and health care communities joined to help turn lupus research upside down and patients’ lives around.

Nearly 700 members of New York City’s philanthropic, government, business, art, music and health care communities joined to help turn lupus research upside down and patients’ lives around.

Gala honorees Simona and Jerome Chazen were celebrated as pioneers of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and Lupus Research Institute. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg received the Distinguished Public Health Leadership Award in recognition of his many contributions in helping New Yorkers lead healthier lives and for his long-standing support of the organization’s work in improving the well-being of people with lupus.

Mayor Bloomberg stated “The Lupus Research Institute deserves a lot of credit. Thinking about their intellectual capacity focusing on this one disease, it gives you great comfort that we’re making progress and that, hopefully, sooner, rather than later, we’re going to discover what causes lupus, how to prevent it, and how to cure people who already have the disease. On behalf of 8.4 million New Yorkers, I want to say thank you and keep up the good work.”

Mayor Bloomberg stated “The Lupus Research Institute deserves a lot of credit. Thinking about their intellectual capacity focusing on this one disease, it gives you great comfort that we’re making progress and that, hopefully, sooner, rather than later, we’re going to discover what causes lupus, how to prevent it, and how to cure people who already have the disease. On behalf of 8.4 million New Yorkers, I want to say thank you and keep up the good work.”

From ivory ensembles to shades of vivid green to classic black, we were impressed by the colorful display of looks we saw on guests supporting this formidable cause. Here are some of the most notable looks on impressive ladies who grabbed our attention last Monday night.

Sarah Friend is wearing a gorgeous Zac Posen gown in silver. We couldn't imagine a more flattering dress for this beauty than this halter style open back number, which features a billowing hem.

Sarah Friend is wearing a gorgeous Zac Posen gown in silver. We couldn’t imagine a more flattering dress for this beauty than this halter style open back number, which features a soft, billowing hem.

Cipa Dichter (standing with husband, Misha) opted for a midnight black ensemble, donning a gorgeous simple studded sheath dress with sheer sleeves by Vivienne Tam.  Her bag comes from Rio, Brazil designed by Glorinha Paranagua.

Cipa Dichter (standing with husband, Misha) opted for a midnight black ensemble, donning a gorgeous simple studded sheath dress with sheer sleeves by Vivienne Tam. Her bag comes from Rio, Brazil as designed by Glorinha Paranagua.

Gwen Marder combined menswear and vintage- two of our favorite trends- by wearing a Magaschoni vest underneath a Petite Bois jacket. Her black sequin pants are vintage,and she's carrying on vintage beaded bag to complete her look.

Gwen Marder combined menswear and vintage- two of our favorite trends- by wearing a Magaschoni vest underneath a Petite Bois jacket. Her black sequin pants are vintage, and she carries a vintage beaded bag to complete her look.

Wendy Jeffers pulls off the "anything but a cocktail dress" with a huge dose of style. She pairs her satin-collared  Armani jacket with a full skirt by Herve Leger. Her chic eyeglasses are by Alain Mikli.

Wendy Jeffers pulls off the “anything but a cocktail dress” with a huge dose of style. She pairs her satin-collared Armani jacket with a full skirt by Herve Leger. Her chic eyeglasses are by Alain Mikli.

Alana Levine is a young stunner who keeps things fresh with an emerald green hue J. Crew dress in silk shantung and jewelry styled by Dannijo. The wrap detail dress was perfectly tailored to fit her frame, with the above knee length creating just the right amount of sophistication for this event.

Alana Levine is a young stunner who keeps things fresh with an emerald green hue J. Crew dress in silk shantung and jewelry styled by Dannijo. The wrap detail dress was perfectly tailored to fit her frame, with the above knee length creating just the right amount of sophistication for this event.

All eyes murmered "wow" when this pair turned for our camera-- Alicia Goldstein is wearing a sophisticated black number by Max Mara and is carrying an Edie Parker bag designed by Brett Heyman. By her side is galpal Raina Seitel who rocks a shirred cherry red dress by Beyond Vintage, Both ladies' shoes are by Jimmy Choo.

All eyes murmured “wow” when this pair turned for our camera– Alicia Goldstein is wearing a sophisticated black number by Max Mara and is carrying an Edie Parker bag designed by Brett Heyman. By her side is galpal Raina Seitel who rocks a shirred cherry red dress by Beyond Vintage, Both ladies’ shoes are by Jimmy Choo.

Lauren Rosen's vixenish look is courtesy of an ivory Cushnie et Ochs dress which she styles with sexy stilettos by YSL. She showed just the right amount of skin, while the length and long-sleeves keeps her look chic and elegant.

Lauren Rosen’s vixenish look is courtesy of an ivory Cushnie et Ochs dress which she styles with sexy stilettos by YSL. She showed just the right amount of skin, while the length and long-sleeves keeps her look chic and elegant.

Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg is shimmers in an Oscar de la Renta number that flatters her curves and elevates her elegant look. Next to her is Carol Weisman wearing a to-die-for classic Chanel maxi dress with a high mock turtleneck. Both ladies are carrying Edie Parker clutches.

Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg shimmers in an Oscar de la Renta number that flatters her curves and elevates her exquisite look. Next to her is Carol Weisman looking polished and graceful in a to-die-for classic Chanel maxi dress with a high mock turtleneck. Both ladies are carrying Edie Parker clutches.

Lauren Roberts is sensational in a stunning vintage Chanel suit and carrying a Gucci handbag.  Next to her is Denise Wohl, wearing an alluring Yves St. Laurent dress paired with a bag from new elegant and practical handbag collection Deesigns by Dee Ocleppo ,aka Mrs. Tommy Hilfiger.

Lauren Roberts is sensational in a stunning vintage Chanel suit and Gucci handbag. Next to her is Denise Wohl, wearing an alluring Yves St. Laurent dress paired with a bag from the new elegant and practical handbag collection Deesigns by Dee Ocleppo, aka Mrs. Tommy Hilfiger.

We couldn't help notice the statuesque Adrienne Nicole upstairs who was rocking a vibrant multicolor Moshood Creations dress with metallic accent that she found in a local independent African Euro boutique.

We couldn’t help but notice the statuesque Adrienne Nicole upstairs during dinner as she was rocking a vibrant multicolor Moshood Creations dress with metallic accent that she found in a local independent African Euro boutique.

 

As the world’s biggest fundraising event for lupus, the Gala was held against the fitting larger-than-life backdrop of the whales and dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. NBC’s Today Show Co-host Willie Geist entertained with wit and style as Master of Ceremonies, while Jazz legend and Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis literally blew guests away on trumpet.

the Gala was held against the fitting larger-than-life backdrop of the whales and dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History.   The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is the country’s preeminent organization delivering direct patient services, public education and novel research at a national level. Founded more than 40 years ago in New York City by lupus patients and their families as the first nonprofit to serve the lupus community, it remains the cornerstone of comprehensive care in all five boroughs in the continuous battle for a Life Without Lupus.

The Gala was held against the fitting larger-than-life backdrop of the whales and dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is the country’s preeminent organization delivering direct patient services, public education and novel research at a national level. Founded more than 40 years ago in New York City by lupus patients and their families as the first nonprofit to serve the lupus community, it remains the cornerstone of comprehensive care in all five boroughs in the continuous battle for a Life Without Lupus.

Fashion Industry Supports Lupus Science and Service with Style

NEW YORK, NY – April 11, 2012 – More than 300 leaders in New York’s fashion, philanthropic and lupus communities raised nearly $300,000 for the fight against lupus at S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s fifth annual New York Bag Ladies Luncheon. The support of the fashion industry with donations of over 150 handbags from 50 top designers seems particularly “fitting” since the devastating autoimmune disease primarily affects women. Held every spring, the luncheon celebrates a season brimming with the hope of promise fulfilled.

Prominent New York Philanthropists Raise Over a Quarter of a Million Dollars at S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s 5th Annual NY Bag Ladies Luncheon

Prominent New York Philanthropists Raise Over a Quarter of a Million Dollars at
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s 5th Annual NY Bag Ladies Luncheon

Honorary co-chairs were Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Former First Lady of New York State, Founder and Chair of Mentoring USA and opera legend Jessye Norman. With her commanding presence and majestic operatic voice, Miss Norman welcomed the crowd. “Like many in this room, I have been involved in this marvelous fundraising luncheon since its inception. I am here each year on behalf of all the magnificent women with lupus who wage an unimaginable battle against this devastating disease affecting not only the bodies of women, but as often, their spirits.”

This year’s noted guest was fashion meteorite Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, who embodies the same pioneering innovative spirit that characterizes the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. Ms. Wilson went from positions at Bulgari and Louis Vuitton to co-found Gilt Groupe, an innovative e-commerce company offering highly-coveted luxury lifestyle products. She noted, “Three people near and dear to me suffer from lupus so I have seen some of the challenges it poses. Maintaining a positive attitude is not easy when battling such a difficult illness.  But as someone entrenched in the fashion industry, I wanted to speak today to help inspire women to ‘Dress for Happiness,’ boosting their spirits and self-image.”

 Jamie Peretz gave a heartwarming talk on her experiences with lupus.

Jamie Peretz gave a heartwarming talk on her experiences with lupus.

Special recognition was given to Deborah McKeever, President and COO of EHE International for her help in increasing awareness of lupus through its highly visible Rockefeller Center Window Campaign. “EHE International has been very proud to support the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation for the past several years,” said Ms. McKeever. “Our goal is to help groups build awareness of diseases like lupus that are not very well known but warrant public attention.”

New York Turns out for the Lupus Community

Luncheon guests included S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Founder and Vice President Susan Golick and Board members Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, wife of Senator Frank Lautenberg; Jennie DeScherer; Betsey Selkowitz; Carol Weisman; and Kate Kelly.  Fashion luminaries included Danielle DiFernando, Founder of Danielle Nicole Handbags and Mary Belle, President, Licensing at The Jones Group which includes iconic lifestyle brands such as Anne Klein, Jones New York and Nine West.  A first-time attendee of special note was long-time champion for women’s causes, Gloria Steinem.

Supporting Lupus is in StyleBagB-139

A silent auction of stunning handbags generated essential funding for the innovative science needed to find a cure for lupus as well as the necessary services to help patients live with the disease day-to-day.

“We thank everyone here today and every designer who generously donated handbags holding so much promise for lupus patients,” said Margaret Dowd, Executive Director, S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. “The funds raised here today turn on the lights of laboratories throughout the country and allow our finest scientists to deliver the breakthrough discoveries that will deliver a Life Without Lupus. So much progress has already been made as we are closing in on the cause and going for the cure.”

About Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a chronic, complex and serious autoimmune disease affecting more than 1.5 million Americans. Nine out of 10 people with lupus are women. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs — the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints. Lupus is difficult to diagnose, difficult to treat, and a leading cause of premature cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke among young women.

About the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation

Formed over 40 years ago, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation leads the nation in providing direct patient services, education, public awareness, as well as funding for innovative lupus research on the national level. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is a member of the Lupus Research Institute National Coalition of patient groups throughout the country.

Setting the Future Straighter at the “Life Without Lupus Gala 2012: Turning Lupus Research Upside Down”

New Yorkers are a resilient bunch. Despite Sandy, some of the most stylish in town came out for the SLE Lupus Foundation “Life Without Lupus Gala 2012: Turning Lupus Research Upside Down”, which raised 2.5 million.

The world’s largest gathering of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation was held at The American Museum of Natural History on Monday evening, November 19th. Hosted by Willie Geist, new co-host of NBC’s Today Show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the night raised $2.5 million to turn the tables on lupus with novel innovative research that is producing the pivotal discoveries to improve treatments and uncovering the root causes of lupus that can lead to a cure.

More than 700 members of New York City’s philanthropic, government, business and health care communities joined forces. Five-time Tony award winner Audra McDonald captivated the audience’s hearts with her expression of support. “I can only begin to understand the devastation that lupus can bring having watched a colleague cope with her mom’s death from this disease. I perform for you tonight to help raise the funds needed to drive the most creative research that can turn the situation around for people with lupus as well as millions of others suffering from similar autoimmune diseases.” Audra was just recognized as 2012 Best Actress in a Musical for her starring role in Porgy and Bess.

Gala honorees Fern and Lenard Tessler were celebrated for their steadfast dedication to the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and its Lupus Research Institute (LRI) in the relentless pursuit of improving lupus care through novel research. Lupus is a devastating autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million Americans, 90 percent of whom are women — with a two to three times greater risk among women of color.

In accepting the award, Fern commented on the effect her niece’s diagnosis has on her family’s lives. She noted she wants more for her niece– and is determined to give her the future she deserves and the best way we can is to support this organization that finds and funds the most groundbreaking research.

S.L.E. Lupus Foundation President Richard DeScherer announced that in addition to devoting funds raised to lupus research, the Foundation is donating $50,000 to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. “We have been committed to New York for 42 years – while we expand across the country and worldwide, New York will always be our home. And as New Yorkers, we want to help our neighbors get back on their feet.”

Honorary Dinner Chair Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg addressed the crowd, noting, “New York has the most lupus laboratories, private sector lupus research produced, opportunities for lupus diagnosis, treatment and care and the most established and active outreach to combat racial disparities in lupus. The work of these groups over the past several decades has greatly contributed to helping our city assume that leadership role in the U.S. and worldwide.”

Gala 2012 Dinner Chairs were Jennie & Richard DeScherer; Susan Golick & Alan Wasserman; Ronnie & Michael Kassan; Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg & Senator Frank R. Lautenberg; Andrea & Jeff Lomasky; Lisa & Mark Neporent; Linda & Seth Plattus; Beth & Alan Waldenberg and Carol & Michael Weisman.

New York luminaries supporting the event included Audra’s husband and Broadway star Will Swenson; Governor Mario Cuomo & Mrs. Matilda Cuomo; opera legend Jessye Norman; philanthropists Edward & Arlyn Gardner and socialite Karen Koeningsberg. A live auction conducted by world-renowned Christie’s brought in many more members to the growing family of active combatants against lupus.

About S.L.E. Lupus Foundation: The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is the country’s preeminent organization delivering direct patient services, public education and novel research at a national level. Founded more than 40 years ago in New York City by lupus patients and their families as the first nonprofit to serve the lupus community, it remains the cornerstone of comprehensive care in all five boroughs in the continuous battle for a Life Without Lupus.